Just this morning I received this message on my Facebook from a patient whom I had seen in the clinic on Friday:
“I seem to have taken a turn for the worse. My head has a splitting head ache. I have pain between my shoulder blades. I have not thrown up yet. I have no organ pain. So I do not think it has anything to do with the pancreas, liver, or gall bladder. The diarrhea has not let up. I get waves of stomach cramps after sipping water or eating. I have been having muscle cramps. Once it was my left hand thumb cramped to the hand would not move, it was painful and then it opened. Once my left abdomen the muscle cramped until I put my hand on it and relaxed it. Sometimes even my heart hurts. Sounds like dehydration and mineral depletion. My body does not respond to PB8 so I cannot [imagine] it metabolizing minerals. I simply do not know what to do. It is the holiday weekend and I do not know what to do. Any suggestions[?]”
That message and the telephone conversation we had this morning after I called her provoked the explanation below.
I have often witnessed that symptomatically some of my patients seem to get worse before they get better—and truthfully, this has caused me some consternation in the past. But, I have come to realize that the body has ways of expressing healing that are not all pixie dust and warm fuzzies. Some of the cleansing/healing processes can be a little itchy-scratchy—and painful. Some can be downright terrifying. Understanding what the body is doing and decoding the symptoms and process correctly is a key step in healing the mind, hence, keeping the body on the right track.
The human mind deals in code, and language is the code of the mind. The body also deals in code. The sensory parts of the body transmit coded messages to the brain, and those coded messages are detected by the brain through our nervous system. It is the mind—not merely the brain—that must decipher these codes and make judgments about them. The mind asks the question: Am I dying? Or, am I healing? In some cases, it can feel grossly similar…. This is where the code of language can help.
The mind simply needs to be reassured that the body is healing rather than dying. (Let me say that I am not suggesting that in acute medical emergencies, like stroke or myocardial infarction, wherein a patient is in dire need of interventive care that simply tricking the brain into believing that it is healing rather than dying is the remedial path. Clearly, I am not saying that…) But in situations where healing has begun and the patient is unsure—THIS is where a caring helper and facilitator (like a doctor) comes into play. This, I feel, is the essence of being a doctor. Being a doctor is sort of like being a “seeing eye dog”—sans the fleas... During the first few steps towards healing, our patients rely more heavily upon us until they gain their footing on the path. They need not only remedial procedures, but they need to be taught what is happening inside their own bodies and shown what it really means. They need a discerning eye to help them to interpret the body codes.
I am going to give an example. Say you have a person with a constellation of symptoms ranging from.
- Gastrointestinal distress such as stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Musculoskeletal pain in all four limbs and in the back, neck and head.
- Abnormal sensations in the hands and feet.
- Postural distortions in sitting and standing positions.
- Sensory disturbances like vertigo and sensitivity to light.
- Anxiety over finances and inability to keep commitments due to health challenges.
- Anxiety over the meaning of the symptoms themselves: “Is it my heart? Am I dying? What is really wrong? What am I going to do? Who can help me? Essential queries that produce fear and more anxiety rather than peace and reassurance.
The patient’s history is significant for several falls in the last year—some of them hard falls on hard surfaces—though no broken bones. The most recent fall was just 2-3 days prior to their presentation at your clinic. The patient is under financial and emotional stress, and has perhaps done a little more stress eating that they should have…and thus has gained some weight. The patient has just eaten something that clearly has not “agreed” with her digestive system and appears to be in acute gastric distress.
There are several layers of issues and complexities that you are dealing with as a physician—from mind to toe. Clearly, there are likely some chronic musculoskeletal issues going on with the older injuries. There are chronic issues of emotional stress on the system and the wear and tear associated with that silent killer. There is the issue of recent, compounded upon the chronic gastric distress. There is some acute distress and inflammation from the recent trauma. So there is understandably the emotional lability that comes from having to live in the context of this suffering from day to day without relief or answers.
What to do, what to do….? The question we face on every patient---------every encounter.
In my first blog, my “welcome to the mending path”, I mentioned that the body has numerous mechanisms for dealing the stimuli which cause a state of dis-ease in the body. Stimuli can be an internal encounter with some “thing” like a toxin, or, it can be an external encounter like our encounter with a belief. The effects of either can and often will manifest in the body.
The body has many defense mechanisms. One of these is compartmentalization. This is where the body may “wall-off” a disaster area. This can occur cellularly or systemically…. it can even occur psychologically. If the burden on the system is greater than the ability of the system to buffer, or dispose of, or effectively mitigate the destabilizing effects of a noxious stimuli, they will simply build-up or accumulate until naturally dispelled through some process—or, sadly until it kills us. (Clearly not an option for my patients) As the body deals with the load of harmful stimuli it must have a way to express or spill off the bi-products. Since the body has an on-board program to maintain a state of homeostasis or balance, it would stand to reason that it would use its various systems to facilitate this. And in fact, it does quite a nice job of this most of the time unless is becomes overburdened.
Overburdening means that the mitigating/balancing mechanisms innate to the body cannot keep pace with the stresses placed upon them. This results in a state of dis-ease. We could use the metaphor of the body being like a bathtub with a drain. The bathtub has a capacity to hold a certain quantity of water, but likes to keep the level relatively unchanged and at a certain balanced midpoint. That point is like homeostasis, meaning a point of equilibrium or balance of the systems. The bathtub has a source for water (input) and it has a means of draining the water (output). If the output can keep pace with the input and keep the water level on the balance point mark, then all is well in the system. But, IF the input exceeds the drain output, then the water starts to build to a point where it must dissipate by spilling over the tub edge. When the water starts rising beyond the balance point, it may start to get our attention by alerting us to the subtle disturbances reverberating in the system—but maybe not…. In our body, these disturbances come in form of subtle symptoms and signs. This is the perfect time to call the plumber right? Ideally, yes. But usually the plumber is not called until after the first flood, or maybe the second one… just human nature. Part of the reason for that is we don’t know where to turn for understanding.
So once the plumber is called, they can get to work on solving the problem.
In the case of this patient, I was the plumber and she finally called. (Bear in mind, I was not the first plumber she called on these issues) So, from the perspective of a NUCCA doctor, I made certain assessments and determined that a particular intervention was needful.
I took specific X-rays of the head and neck determined that the patients Atlas was severely subluxated—in other words, “not in the right place”, and that was causing the following:
- a slight distortion of the spinal cord,
- interference in the vascular supply and drainage to and from the brain,
- and broad primary muscular imbalances of the entire spine and pelvis.
Because this kink between the head and neck is in an area just south of the main autonomic centers in the central nervous system that control digestion and some of the other autonomic sensory centers of balance systems I conclude that the distortion caused by the subluxation was in a locale that likely explained many of her symptoms—if not all of them. The X-rays I had taken gave me a clear corrective pathway to follow and I did so gently, precisely and intentionally. Following the corrective procedure, the patient “recovered” for nearly an hour in our recovery area allowing the healing process to continue. Recovery is an area in our clinic where we take the patient into a sort of stasis, taking them “offline” for a time thereby allowing their body’s innate intelligence to focus on healing and balancing the systems, and little more. This is where the healing process develops and sets in. Their bodies begin sorting through the rubble of the internal stimuli in waves, and a real corner is turned. But it may not feel that way to the patient.
When the body embarks upon a mending path, it can be just about as pleasant as cleaning out a septic tank. So, when in the midst of the muck of the mire—know that you are "coming out of it" rather than "settling into it". The proper interpretation of the unpleasant codes produced by the body can make all the difference to the mind.
Try to enjoy the journey…